Kathy: In THE NOVEL ART OF MURDER Samantha Washington's grandmother rips into the insufferable Maria Romanov who just got the lead in the Shady Acres Senior Follies, a part that Nana Jo always got. Community Theatre can be brutal. Have you ever participated in local theatre?
VMB: I have not participated in Community Theatre, but I have friends who have participated in community theatre performances and they have stories.
Kathy: While proving her grandmother is not a murderer, Samantha continues to work on her latest book. Her newest mystery is set in England between the wars. What led you to choose that time and place in history?
VMB: I love studying history and I’ve always been fascinated by that time period before World War II, especially from the British perspective. Most of the allied nations were recovering from World War I and reluctant to engage in another war with Germany, which is probably one reason Hitler was allowed to rearm and move unchecked across Europe for as long as he did. Despite the call for appeasement, men like Winston Churchill were able to see the truth and had the courage to speak out.
Kathy: Have you considered writing a historical mystery yourself?
VMB: Absolutely, I’d love to write a historical mystery. I have ideas for at least three. Someday, maybe I’ll have the time to pursue them.
Kathy: In order to prove Nana Jo was framed, Sam gets help from her grandmother’s posse of rambunctious retirees. I love reading about fun and energetic and, dare I say, trouble making seniors. Are they as fun to write about as they are to read about?
VMB: Definitely, I love writing about, “The Girls.” They are fun to write. When writing scenes with Nana Jo and the girls, I can toss caution to the wind and let them say whatever they want to say, and do whatever they want to do.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
VMB: I read Nancy Drew when I was young, along with a lot of other books. However, I think Agatha Christie was the spark that started me down this trail. I remember reading, THE MURDER OF ROGER AKROYD and thinking, this is brilliant. Next, I read, AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, and that sealed my fate. That book blew my mind. I started reading every cozy mystery I could find and haven’t really stopped.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
VMB: I have not written other genres, although I think someday, I’d like to give it a try. I don’t know that I’d be able to keep from dropping dead bodies into the mix (which would be a big problem if I ever tried to write a romance). I have an idea for a cozy/science fiction and a cozy/fantasy book. Maybe one day I’ll actually sit down and write them.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
VMB: When Samantha Washington’s husband dies, she realizes life is short and quits her job as an English teacher to pursue their shared dream of opening a mystery bookshop. However, Samantha has another dream of writing British historic cozy mysteries. Each book in The Mystery Bookshop Mystery Series includes a story within a story. Readers have two mysteries to solve in every book.
The Dog Club Mystery Series features Lilly Ann Echosby. When Lilly’s husband, Albert, dumps her for a younger woman, she goes in search of her “happy place.” When Albert is murdered, the police think Lilly is a good candidate. Can Lilly solve Albert’s murder before she’s collared as a killer.
In the RJ Franklin Mystery Series, Detective RJ Franklin investigates murders. However, people aren’t always willing to talk to a detective, but they will talk to Mama B, RJ’s godmother. Mama B gets all of the local gossip. Between the two of them, murderers don’t stand a chance.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
VMB: I don’t really have a favorite character. In each series, there is at least one character that I enjoy writing a little more than others. Nana Jo and the girls are fun in the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series. I enjoy writing Mama B’s character in the RJ Franklin series. In the Dog Club Mystery series, I enjoy Dixie and some of the other members of the East Tennessee Dog Club.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
VMB: For years I dreamed of writing British historic cozy mysteries and owning a mystery bookshop. In the Mystery Bookshop Mystery Series, I get to live my dream through Samantha Washington.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
VMB: As an avid cozy mystery reader, I love reading about bookstores. I also love reading about British historic cozies. I write the type of books I want to read and I hope other cozy lovers will enjoy them too.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
VMB: Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, J.K. Rowling, and Jane Austen would be the four authors I’d love to have to dinner. I’d invite Agatha Christie, because she is my absolute favorite mystery writer of all time. I’m also a big fan of Rex Stout. I enjoy reading the Nero Wolfe books. I would also invite J.K. Rowling. I admire what she’s done to create the Harry Potter series and would love to pick her brain. If I had to pick a favorite author (non-mystery) it would be Jane Austen. I have read Pride & Prejudice so many times I can recite most from memory. So much has changed since Austen’s first book was published, yet we are still interested in reading about The Bennetts and Mr. Darcy. I’d love to know how to create appealing characters who can stand the test of time.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
VMB: I’m also a fan of Victoria Thompson and I’m currently reading the second book in her new series, City of Secrets.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
VMB: I don’t have a lot of time to indulge in hobbies much. However, one of my interest involves dogs. It’s probably no surprise that I’m a dog lover. I have two toy poodles and when I and my dogs were younger, we competed in agility and obedience. We also did pet assisted therapy. I also enjoy cooking and love discovering new recipes on Pinterest and trying them out.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
VMB: Bacon, coffee, sugar, flour and did I mention bacon? I LOVE bacon. Coffee is needed to keep me sane. If I have sugar and flour, I can create something to go with my bacon. Or, I can just put the sugar in the coffee.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
VMB: I have a contract to do more books in the RJ Franklin series and the Dog Club Mystery Series. I hope to get to continue the Mystery Bookshop Mystery Series. I’d love to write that series through the war. I also have a Fairy Tale Mystery Series which one day I’d love to get published.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
VMB: I am a bit of an introvert, but I’d have to say interacting with readers has been amazing. I love getting emails from readers and engaging at book signings. Writing can be a bit lonely sometimes, so it’s great to hear from real people that they enjoyed my books.
The Novel Art of Murder (Mystery Bookshop) by V.M. Burns
About the Book
Cozy Mystery 3rd in Series
Kensington (November 27, 2018)
Paperback: 256 pages
Mystery bookstore owner Samantha Washington is trying to keep her grandmother from spending her golden years in an orange jumpsuit . . .
The small town of North Harbor, Michigan, is just not big enough for the two of them: flamboyant phony Maria Romanov and feisty Nana Jo. The insufferable Maria claims she's descended from Russian royalty and even had a fling with King Edward VIII back in the day. She’s not just a lousy liar, she's a bad actress, so when she nabs the lead in the Shady Acres Senior Follies—a part Nana Jo plays every year in their retirement village production—Nana Jo blows a gasket and reads her the riot act in front of everyone. Of course, when Maria is silenced with a bullet to the head, Nana Jo lands the leading role on the suspects list. Sam’s been writing her newest mystery, set in England between the wars, with her intrepid heroine Lady Daphne drawn into murder and scandal in the household of Winston Churchill. But now she has to prove that Nana Jo’s been framed. With help from her grandmother's posse of rambunctious retirees, Sam shines a spotlight on Maria’s secrets, hoping to draw the real killer out of the shadow
About the Author
V.M. Burns was born in Northwestern Indiana and spent many years in Southwestern Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline. She is a lover of dogs, British historic cozies, and scones with clotted cream. After many years in the Midwest, she went in search of milder winters and currently lives in Eastern Tennessee with her poodles. Her debut novel, The Plot is Murder was nominated for a 2017 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. Readers can learn more by visiting her website at vmburns.com
Author Links:Website: http://www.vmburns.com/
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